Skip to main content

Full text of "A guide to the history, art and architecture of the Church of St. Lawrence, Asheville, North Carolina"

See other formats

Cfje Liorarp 

o£ ttje 

{Hnttiersitp of Jl3ort|) Carolina 

Collection of iRoctf; Carolinians 

ignfioturB bg 

Sofin feprunt ^ill 

of tJ)e Class of 1889 

Co 282.09 

This BOOK may be V 


g>tHatorence Catftoltc € fmrcf) 


SsfjebiUe, Uortf) Carolina 


BelwuiU Abbty 


Ekluu a nl, N. C. 

9 #uttie 


Jlistorp, Art anb Architecture 


Cfje Cfjurcf) of %>l Hatorence 

gtenebtUe, J^ortf) Carolina 

- Belmont Abbey 

v BelmonV- N^-€t~ 

Prepareb fap tfjc labtesf of tf)e &ltar H>ocietp 
VJitl) tfic approbal of tljc -pastor 

Bet). Horns fosiepi) Pour, Jffl.g., $f).1L 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2012 with funding from 
:e of Museum and Library Services, under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the State Library of North Carolina. Grant issued to subcontractor UNC-CH for Duke University's Religion in North Carolina project. 

ktlmont Abbe3 r 

-Be lmont, N. C . 




First Bishop of North Carolina. Purchased the first Catholic 
Church property in Asheville, N. C, 1868. 



Traveling Missioners of the Carolinas who built the first 
Catholic Church in Asheville in 1869. 


The first Catholic Priest to minister in Asheville — about the 
year 1840. 


The first resident Priest in Asheville. 

Rev. Francis J. Gallagher, Curate 

Rev. James A. Manley, Curate 

Rev. Aloysius C. Adler, Curate 

Belmont Abbey 
Belmont, N. C. 

Belmont Abbey 

Belmont, N. C. 

*0 'N 'juouipg 
Xsqqv juouipg 


Belmont Abbey 

Belmont, N. C. 


IN his valuable History of Catholicity in the Carolinas and Georgia, 
Rev. J. J. O'Connell tells the following incident which we may well 
take as the beginning of the history of the church of St. Lawrence : 

"Early in the morning as the sun shot his first rays in great splendor 
over the distant eastern hills, diffusing all around a flood of golden light 
far more brilliant than St. Peter's illuminated, I erected an altar upon the 
summit of Mount Mitchell and said Mass. It was the thirtieth of August, 
the Feast of St. Rose of Lima, the first flower of the American Church. 
There could be no temple more sublime or more worthy of the Holy Sacri- 
fice which I offered on that Altar. The majestic peaks that stood around 
like the ancients before the throne of the Lamb, seemed to bare their heads 
in adoration before their Maker, and I imagined that they rejoiced, after 
centuries of waiting, in being able to pay their first act of jubilant homage 
to the Hand that raised them, the witnesses of His power, wisdom, and 
goodness. All present partook of the Bread of Life, one a sincere convert, 
A. L. Cardell, and his children, youths in their teens; Mrs. Anne Keenan, 
and a daughter of Terence Keenan, afterwards an edifying Sister of Mercy, 
known in religion as Sister Genevieve." 

This was in 1866, and in 1868, Bishop James Gibbons, then the young 
Vicar Apostolic of North Carolina, and afterwards the saintly and famous 
Cardinal, made his way by stage coach and on horseback to Asheville, at 
that time a little mountain village almost unknown to fame. It was a 
journey full of hardships, but full too of hope, for the young Bishop had 
the gift of being able to see and to call out the best in every one who came 
within the reach of his own radiant spirit of Faith and Love ; and he recog- 
nized then what he frequently said afterwards, that, while the people of 
North Carolina are generally ignorant of the true teachings of the Catholic 
Church and are therefore prejudiced against it, they sincerely believe in 
Our Lord Jesus Christ as their God and Saviour, and thus in approaching 
them, one has always this Faith as a starting point. 

Again let us listen to Father O'Connell, who says: "During Bishop 
Gibbons' first visit to Asheville in 1868, a vacant space, containing about 


seven and a half acres in the centre of the town attracted his and the clergy's 
attention. A more suitable place for a church and other ecclesiastical build- 
ings could not be found. It was purchased at a moderate sum from Col. 
N. A. Woodfin, an eminent lawyer, who also contributed handsomely to- 
wards the contemplated object. The people were anxious for the establish- 
ment of a Catholic Church, and when I waited on the principal citizens most 
of them responded liberally to my appeals for assistance. . . . But 
the priests, Fathers L. P. and J. P. O'Connell, were obliged to collect money 
abroad to pay for the site and to build the church. They succeeded after 
much labor in realizing the necessary funds, and a commodious brick build- 
ing was erected, and dedicated under the invocation of St. Lawrence." 

Father O'Connell does not state here that Bishop Gibbons chose the 
name of St. Lawrence because this holy martyr was the patron saint of the 
able, zealous, and ever-faithful Father Lawrence O'Connell to whom the 
Carolinas owe so much. 

The "commodious brick building" so proudly mentioned by our his- 
torian was the little church situated on the hill where the school for colored 
children now stands and which is still locally known as "Catholic Hill." 
Here a few families, chief among them the ever-faithful Keenans, the 
pioneer Catholics of this region, and an occasional tourist from among those 
who were beginning to make summer homes in the mountains of Western 
Carolina, would assemble at long intervals to hear Mass and to receive the 
Sacraments. There was at that time no priest stationed near Asheville, and 
the mountain mission was served in irregular fashion by whatever priest 
could be spared for a month or two from elsewhere. Among these visiting 
missionaries the older members of the parish remember with peculiar 
pleasure Father Price, destined to become known throughout the world as a 
missionary, first in North Carolina, his native state, and afterwards as the 
co-founder with Father Walsh of "Mary Knoll," which is doing such great 
work in training missionaries for China. Father Price died in China, but 
those who knew him best can never doubt but that his holy soul does un- 
ceasingly pray for the beloved people of his own native state. 

In 1887 Rev. J. B. White became the first resident pastor of Asheville, 
and with the far-seeing wisdom which characterized him, he at once realized 
that the situation of the church was too inaccessible, unless indeed Father 
O'Connell's dream of a whole group of buildings, church, rectory, schools, 
etc., could be realized. Father White therefore set about securing another 
site, and having obtained the present property, he erected thereon a modest 
wooden structure, and also fitted up the small house which was on the lot as 
a rectory. The choice of this situation was but another instance of the busi- 



ness sense of Father White, which was so valuable in those early days. To 
him we owe the fine property in Raleigh, Asheville, Salisbury, and a num- 
ber of other places in the state. No man thought less of his own comfort or 
pleasure, but when it came to the advancement of the material needs of the 
church or to the perfection and order of everything that pertained to the 
Ritual of the Services he exercised a vision, a care, a foresight which were 
truly remarkable. 

Father White was also gifted with an extraordinary knowledge of 
music and had a most beautiful voice, so that to hear him sing High Mass 
was like being borne on the wings of harmony to the very gates of paradise. 

But even the health of so strong a man as Father White broke down at 
last under the strain which he constantly put on it and so he begged the 
Bishop to accept his resignation, stipulating, however, that a young priest, 
Rev. Peter Marion, should be his successor (another debt of gratitude which 
we owe to him). Accordingly in the month of August, the month of St. 
Lawrence as well as of St. Rose of Lima, just twenty-nine years after that 
first Mass on Mount Mitchell, God in His loving providence, sent to Ashe- 
ville as pastor of St. Lawrence a priest who by the integrity, the simplicity, 
the tolerance, and true Christian charity of his character was destined to win 
the love of every Catholic and the profound respect of every non-Catholic 
citizen of Asheville, as well as the gratitude of the numberless visitors who 
constantly sought his aid either as priest or friend. That man was Rev. 
Peter G. Marion, affectionately known to the congregation as "Father 
Peter." It was the wish of the Altar Society that he would permit them to 
publish in this pamphlet his own account of his coming and of the building 
of the new church ; but this request he has steadfastly refused to grant. 

However, he tells us that on that August day in 1895, as the train from 
Raleigh pulled into the Asheville station, Father White met his young suc- 
cessor and handed him a tin box containing four dollars in dimes and 
nickels, saying as he did so that this would buy something to eat for Father 
Marion, his mother, and his cousin (now Sister Loretto at St. Joseph's) 
until the next Sunday. To most of us that greeting would have been rather 
discouraging, but Father Peter declares that he was quite elated by it, as he 
had been obliged to borrow the money necessary to buy the tickets from 
Raleigh to Asheville. 

They found the rectory without the absolutely essential housekeeping 
articles, the church was a little frame building down below the level of the 
street, the congregation was small and most of the members poor, but there 
was never a word of complaint from these newcomers. 


And small as the church was, the regular congregation filled less than 
one-half of it, so naturally the need of a new building did not seem urgent 
until one Sunday in July, 1905, the great architect, Rafael Guastavino, 
came over from his summer home near Black Mountain, N. C, to attend 
Mass. Calling on Father Marion afterwards he told him that he had been 
unable to get a seat, the church was so crowded. Father Marion answered 
consolingly that after a couple of months there would be plenty of room, as 
the crowd was due to the number of tourists ; whereupon Mr. Guastavino 
made the truly Catholic speech that our churches ought always to be big 
enough to take care of the stranger, for all should feel at home in them; 
and then and there he offered to make the plans and give the dome of a new 
fireproof structure. But even with this help it was a stupendous under- 
taking, and to Father Marion who had just recovered from a very severe 
illness it seemed nothing short of impossible. 

But just a little before this time Bishop Haid had sent to Asheville as 
assistant, Rev. Patrick Marion, Father Peter's younger brother, and one 
day when the two brothers were talking together about Mr. Guastavino's 
offer, the younger priest reminded the elder of the promise made by him 
during his recent illness that if God would spare him to live a few years 
longer, he would strive to do some special work for His honor and glory. 

"Perhaps," said Father Patrick, "this new church is the work that God 
has spared you to do. We have no means, it is true, but since the thing is 
needed, God will supply the means if we do our part." 

Inspired by this thought, the brothers talked and prayed and planned 
for this new edifice which should be the expression of their love for God, 
of their gratitude to Him, and which would give to every Catholic, or indeed 
to every person, be his faith what it might, a house of prayer in this Land 
of the Sky. Finally they summoned courage to ask the permission of the 
Bishop for the undertaking, a permission readily given, and Mr. Guasta- 
vino was called upon to furnish the promised plans. 

This promise the architect promptly and most fully carried out; and 
developed designs suited to the present location. The plan finally adopted 
was an elliptical form, partly on account of the limitations of the site, and 
also because of the great advantage it would have in eliminating all columns 
and obstructions. It is an interesting fact in this connection that the pro- 
totype of this edifice was the Chapel Nuestra Senora de los Desamparados 
(Our Lady of the Forsaken), an old church in Valencia, Spain (Mr. Guas- 
tavino's native city) , which is also covered by an elliptical dome. 

The contract was given to a local firm, but the style of architecture was 
new to them and they soon found that they were losing money, so Father 

f 161 










Marion released them from their contract, and Father Patrick set himself to 
study the plans night and day in order to qualify as supervising architect, 
while both he and his brother became workmen, as well as contractors. 
"And," adds Father Peter, "during the four years we took to complete the 
building, we never quit for want of money." 

The story of how the money came is a story of Faith, zeal, industry, 
perseverance and generosity such as might be told of the building of those 
old-world cathedrals where all worked together, each after his own talent or 
capacity, for the raising of a structure in some degree worthy of the worship 
of God. Some of the members of the congregation helped in digging out 
the cellar ; Father Peter wrote three thousand letters and sent them all over 
the country, "And I got only three downright refusals to help," he says, 
"two of those from millionaires. It is not the millionaires who build our 
churches," he continues, "but the poor struggling Christian people of faith 
and devotion." There was a non-Catholic gentleman for whom every mem- 
ber of St. Lawrence's should offer many a prayer, this was Mr. R. S. 
Howland, who, when the stone for the foundation had all been furnished by 
his quarry, handed Father Marion a bill marked "paid in full," a truly 
splendid act of generosity. In hauling this stone a member of the congre- 
gation did faithful service, Mr. John O'Donnell furnished a two-horse team 
and driver for the hauling of the six hundred loads of stone in the basement 
and also for the hauling of the brick and tile of the upper structure; while 
Mr. Patrick Mclntyre proved himself an ever-present help in time of need, 
by giving the money for paying the workmen on many a Saturday night 
when, without his aid, it is hard to see where the Fathers could have found 
the means to go on with the work. But one day, the outlook was so dark 
that Father Patrick went out to solicit help, and returned with a large 
donation from Mr. M. H. Kelly, which, says Father Peter, "tided us over 
for some time." Thus it went, our Catholic and non-Catholic people help- 
ing in the good work; but still there was great stringency in the financial 
department ; and the following incident is too delightfully typical of Father 
Peter Marion not to be told in his own words, so at the risk of disobeying 
him it is given below. 

"My brother and I worked every day the men worked, and one day I 
heard the masons yelling for brick and mortar, I looked and saw them 
standing, trowel in hand. I said to myself, 'It is expensive to have these 
high-paid men standing idle,' so I at once took charge of the brick pile and 
mortar box. I kept plenty of help and never again did I hear a mason yell 
for brick and mortar. One day, while I was busy mixing mortar, a man 
passed. He would not have recognized me as a priest, there in my overalls, 


if it had not been for my Roman collar which I always wore ; but the collar 
made him ask if I were the priest, and on my replying that I was, he said 
that he wished to go to Confession. I dropped my hoe and went into the 
house, where my Mother (God rest her soul! ) was always ready to brush 
me and put me in shape for my clerical duties. I went into the church, and 
then back to work again. The next day I was at the same job when the 
same man passed by. He stopped and said, 'I see that you are still busy at 
the mortar box,' and after a little further talk, he said, 'If you will get me a 
pen, I will give you a donation.' We went into the house together and he 
wrote a check for a thousand dollars, saying that he, his wife, and son felt 
that they could not see a priest working so hard and leave the city without 
making their contribution. Never did a gift come in better time and never 
did one bring more joy to a pastor's heart, for the funds were running low 
and the calls were increasing." 

The story might go on indefinitely telling of self-sacrifice, of unceasing 
effort, of unfailing co-operation, of true generosity, from Catholics both in 
Asheville and elsewhere ; and of the growing pride in the church as the 
beautiful and unique structure began to show in its finished form; but 
space forbids the yielding to the temptation to record the many touching 
instances of Asheville's awakening to the realization that a genuine work of 
ecclesiastical art was rising in our city. To each and every reader of this 
history the ladies of the Altar Society would say that where all have worked 
so long and so faithfully, it is impossible to give credit by name to each one, 
but that the very walls of St. Lawrence's bear everlasting witness to the 
Faith and zeal of those who so untiringly aided, and also to the generosity 
of the non-Catholic citizens of Asheville. 

Finally in October, 1909, came the day when the church was dedicated 
by Bishop Haid, a joyful day indeed for him and for the whole state of 
North Carolina. There was still a debt of $6,000 on the building, and the 
fine copper roof had still to be bought, put on, and paid for ; and this work 
had to be done by Father Patrick, for, by this time, Father Peter's health 
had become so frail, that his physician warned him of the absolute necessity 
of his doing less work. Accordingly the Bishop made him Rector Emeritus 
of St. Lawrence and sent him at his own request to Hendersonville, where 
he is today, loved by all who know him. On May 9, 1917, at St. Lawrence 
many priests and three bishops assembled to return thanks to Almighty God 
and to felicitate the congregation of St. Lawrence on the happy occasion of 
Father Peter Marion's silver jubilee as a priest. It is possible that Father 
Patrick Marion had even then begun to suspect that his own health was 
failing, at all events he now bent his superb energy and fine executive ability 



to completing the church in every detail and to paying off the debt so that it 
might be consecrated. In another section we shall speak of the windows, 
etc., of the finished edifice and we will, as far as we can, give a list of the 
donors of the various altars, statues, etc. ; but we would say here that Father 
Patrick Marion generally suggested these gifts and memorials as we have 
them, and it is to his taste and judgment that we owe the consistency with 
which Mr. Guastavino's plan has been carried out. 

Finally on the thirteenth of October, 1920, all was ready and there 
gathered in Asheville the most notable assembly of distinguished prelates 
ever seen in North Carolina for the great event of the Consecration of St. 
Lawrence, the first church ever consecrated in the Vicariate. His Eminence 
James Cardinal Gibbons, Bishop Leo Haid of the Vicariate of North Caro- 
lina, Bishop Russell of Charleston, Bishop McDevitt of Harrisburg, Pa., 
and Bishop O'Connell of Richmond (a nephew of those brave Fathers 
O'Connell who had commenced the first St. Lawrence on Catholic Hill) ; 
and more than two score priests were present. Bishop McDevitt officiated 
at the long ceremony of the Consecration ; Bishop Russell was the Celebrant 
of the Grand Pontifical High Mass ; and Bishop Haid preached a beautiful 
sermon vibrating with the deep feeling of the preacher and awakening 
similar emotions in the hearts of the hundreds who heard him. There were 
two choirs who rendered the beautiful music both at Mass and at the 
Pontifical Vespers in the evening. The church was ablaze with lights, 
flowers and the Cardinal's crimson, and that stately Processional up through 
the crowded church to the music of the choirs was a sight never to be for- 
gotten. Truly the Consecration was carried out with all the splendor of 
ritual, all the solemnity of service, all the grandeur of music which the 
Catholic Church so well knows how to employ on such occasions ; but there 
was no more impressive moment than when the great Cardinal at the close 
of the Mass came in his simple fashion to the altar rail and standing there, 
his slight frame seeming still slighter in the flowing crimson robes which he 
wore as a Prince of the Church, he spoke as a father to his children of his 
recollections of those early days more than fifty years before, when as the 
young bishop he had made his way across the mountains to dedicate the first 
Church of St. Lawrence; of the changes that had come since then; and 
drawing himself up to his full height, his noble and holy countenance 
illumined by his Faith and Love, his clear voice making itself heard 
throughout the church, he assured his hearers that his last message to them 
was even as his first: "Jesus Christ, yesterday, today, and the same for- 
ever." May God give to every reader of this pamphlet the grace to live by 
these words as James Cardinal Gibbons lived by them all the days of 
his life. 


So remarkable were the services rendered Catholicity by Father Patrick 
Marion in completing this church and clearing it of debt that the Holy 
Father, Pope Benedict XV, conferred upon him the high dignity of Mon- 
signor, or Papal Chaplain ; and the Church of St. Lawrence was the scene 
of another solemn ceremony when our Rt. Rev. Bishop invested our honored 
pastor with the Monsignorial purple on the thirteenth of April, 1921. 

It would be ungracious and ungrateful for the Altar Society to leave 
this subject of the various ceremonies and celebrations in the new church 
without expressing their own and the whole congregation's sincere appre- 
ciation of the very great courtesy and kindness of Mr. Frederick L. Seely 
upon every occasion when it has been necessary to entertain an unusual 
number of prelates. 

Mr. Seely gave elaborate banquets to the visiting clergy upon all three 
occasions of Father Peter's Jubilee, the Consecration, and Father Patrick's 
Investiture ; and not content with this, he entertained with princely hospi- 
tality Cardinal Gibbons and the four bishops with all of their secretaries at 
the Consecration throughout their stay in Asheville. Such genuine friend- 
liness as this can never be forgotten by the Catholics of Asheville. Another 
acknowledgment which we are glad to make here is of the hospitality of 
Mrs. Safford of Hot Springs, N. C, whose charming entertainments have 
added so much to the pleasure of the gatherings of which we have been 

Now we must record another great assembly at St. Lawrence when a 
sorrowing people joined in the solemn Requiems which the Church was 
chanting for her departed priest. Monsignor Patrick Marion had long been 
making a losing fight against a fatal disease, and it was only his wonderful 
will, sustained by his high purpose, which had made it possible for him to 
go on, until he brought to completion that church, to the building of which 
he and his devoted brother had given so much of their lives. And when the 
great work was done, when the Holy Father had recognized it with the signal 
honor of the Monsignorial dignity, slowly and surely the splendid physique 
wasted away, and finally in Baltimore, whither he had gone for treatment, 
on the fifth day of August, 1922, the brave, pure soul of Patrick Francis 
Marion passed to its reward, and the faithful priest went to join the hosts of 
those who shall sing for all Eternity the praises of Him who is at once our 
High Priest and our Victim, Our Lord Jesus Christ. "Blessed are the dead 
who die in the Lord. From henceforth now, saith the Spirit, that they may 
rest from their labors for their works do follow them." 

His body was brought to St. Lawrence, and there, in the midst of a 
crowd of his fellow citizens of all creeds and all classes the last solemn rites 



were performed, and he was laid to rest in Belmont, N. C, by the side of his 
saintly mother whom he so tenderly loved. 

Yet we know that God buries His workers but His work goes on ; and 
it is with deeply grateful hearts that we record here that the congregation of 
St. Lawrence has been truly blessed to have as our Rector, Rev. Louis 
Joseph Bour to whom we pay the high tribute of believing him in every way 
the worthy successor of those who have preceded him. We close our history 
by pledging to Father Bour our constant loyal support, and by uttering 
the prayer which will find a response in every heart, that he may long be 
spared to carry on the work of the Catholic priest in Asheville, a work 
bringing comfort and guidance to many souls, both of our congregation and 
of the numbers who seek health and rest in our beautiful Land of the Sky. 

&rcf)ttecture anb &rt 

The congregation of St. Lawrence will naturally be interested in the 
foregoing history of the church, but others will doubtless be more attracted 
by a study of the completed work. At the risk, therefore, of seeming some- 
what didactic, we shall ask the visitor's permission to accompany him as a 
guide and to explain as we go some of the interesting features of this unique 
work of ecclesiastical art. 

To begin with the exterior, the style chosen by the architect, is the 
Spanish Renaissance, a peculiarly happy choice since St. Lawrence was 
born in Huesca, Spain, which is also the native land of Mr. Guastavino. 
The main facade has as its central figure the statue of St. Lawrence hold- 
ing in one hand the martyr's palm and in the other a gridiron, the instrument 
of his martyrdom; as we are told that he was slowly tortured by being 
stretched on a gridiron over burning coals in order to force him to reveal the 
treasures which his pagan persecutors believed that he, as almoner of the 
Christians, was hiding. To the right of St. Lawrence is the statue of St. 
Stephen, the First Martyr and, like St. Lawrence, a deacon ; while to his 
left is the statue of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a native of Spain as was St. 
Lawrence. The lunette over the main entrance is in polychrome terra cotta 
and represents Christ healing the sick. 

In walking around outside of the church one is impressed by the mas- 
siveness of the stone foundations and by the solidity of the superstructure of 
soft-toned brick, and one begins to see how the architect has planned to 
make the building fireproof, and, as far as any work of man can be, ever- 
lasting; there is not a beam of wood or even of steel in the whole edifice; 
all walls, floors, and vaultings are of tile or other masonry materials, and 


the roof itself is of tile with a copper covering. Even in the interior this 
fine simplicity and durability of structure is preserved and one has an in- 
describable sense of harmony and permanence, brought about by the 
dignified sincerity of the whole work. 

Entering the vestibule, which is separated from the church proper by 
the screens of embossed leather and of stained glass (the gift of Mr. Louis 
Carr) we may pause to note again the solidity of the structure, for the very 
steps to the organ loft are without wood or nails. On either side of the main 
door are two small stained glass windows, but it is only after we have 
entered the church and are standing at the foot of the main aisle that we 
realize the beauty of the ellipse and the wonder of the dome, Mr. Guas- 
tavino's masterpiece; it is built wholly of tiles and is entirely self-support- 
ing, having a clear span of 58 x 82 feet, and being the largest dome of 
elliptical type over any church in this country. It was wholly donated by 
Mr. Guastavino and erected under his daily supervision; and it had not 
long been completed when he was suddenly stricken with a dangerous ill- 
ness which proved fatal ; and, as was only fitting, his body now rests in a 
crypt especially built near the entrance to the Lady Chapel. He left the 
designs and plans of the Main Altar and Lady Chapel still to be made ; but 
fortunately for Asheville and St. Lawrence Church, he also left a son, 
Rafael Guastavino, who inherits his father's skill and generosity as well; 
and this son has most beautifully completed his father's unfinished work. 

To the artistic visitor after admiring the great expanse of the dome, 
the next point of interest will probably be the group of the Crucifixion above 
the Main Altar, and this interest will be increased when one finds that the 
whole design of the altar was brought about by the acquisition of these 
precious relics of the past. Mr. Guastavino tells the story as follows : 

"Some twenty years ago a church in one of the cities of Northern Spain, 
now very much reduced from its former splendor, contained a beautiful 
reredos in carved walnut which reached the whole height of the Sanctuary 
wall, 60 feet or more, and was composed of a series of architectural motifs 
of three to four tiers of columns superimposed, these columns decreasing 
towards the top. This wonderful piece of work was in imminent danger of 
being crushed by the apse wall which partly supported it, and which was 
beyond repair. The reredos was disposed of to acquire the needed funds to 
rebuild the walls and make other necessary repairs to the church, and two 
of the columns of the second tier with the Crucifixion group were acquired 
for our church after some years of wandering, from place to place, as if 
seeking to reach the spot for which they were originally intended." 



This beautiful group is a fine piece of Spanish wood-carving of the 
middle seventeenth century, and represents the Blessed Mother of Jesus 
and St. John standing at the foot of the cross upon which Our Crucified 
Lord is dying. Quite apart from its deeply devotional quality, this group 
is well worth detailed study because it is a rare and very fine example of 
Spanish art in the seventeenth century. The Main Altar under this altar 
piece is also most unusual and beautiful; its Tabernacle, composed of 
faience covered with a pearly, creamy glaze, represents two angels, one on 
each side, drawing back the curtains from the door on which is in relief a 
figure of Our Saviour holding a cross ; the lower part of the altar is made 
almost entirely of glazed tile of various colors, and in the front is a terra 
cotta panel of The Last Supper, a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's famous 
fresco in Milan. The reredos fills the entire wall space on either side of 
the apse wall and is made of polychrome terra cotta. Two archangels, 
St. Raphael ( with the fish in his right hand and a sword in his left) and 
St. Michael (grasping a sword with both hands), stand one on either side of 
the altar as if guarding the Crucifix ; while to the right of St. Michael are 
the two Evangelists, St. Matthew and St. Mark; and to St. Raphael's left 
are St. Luke and St. John (these Evangelists are easily recognized by their 
symbols which are at their feet, the angel for St. Matthew, the lion for 
St. Mark, the bull for St. Luke, and the eagle for St. John). This reredos is 
unique in that, to our knowledge, the use of polychrome terra cotta had not 
been heretofore attempted on such a large scale for this decorative purpose 
in any church in this country. The carrying out of this part of the work 
entailed great difficulties ; the pieces had to be fired time and again for the 
various colored glazes with subsequent disappointments and losses before 
the requisite number of pieces were obtained. The visitors who have seen 
the beautiful terra cotta panels and altars of Luca della Robbia in Italy 
will appreciate the task of executing this reredos fifteen years ago when 
polychrome work of this character was in its infancy in this country. It 
may be of interest to note that the figures are more than seven feet high and 
each half of the reredos is 1 1 feet by 18 feet in length. 

The Bishop's throne, the acolytes' seats, and the pulpit are of select 
quartered oak, made in Columbus, Ohio. 

The pulpit is the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Loughran in memory of 
their splendid young son, First Lieutenant Lawrence B. Loughran, who 
was killed in France while bravely fighting his country's battles. The 
Bishop's throne and the acolytes' seats were given by Mr. and Mrs. Martin 


The beautiful marble altar rail with its fine gates of green bronze was 
presented by Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Du Pont of Wilmington, Delaware, as 
a memorial of their only son, Gerald Fitzgerald Du Pont. 

The Main Altar is the munificent gift of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Mc- 
Intyre given in memory of their parents, Joseph and Sarah Mclntyre and 
Captain John and Eleanor McGrath. 

The Chapel of St. Joseph was given in its entirety by Mr. John 
O'Donnell in memory of his parents, Condy and Ellen O'Donnell. 

For the past twenty-five years Mrs. O. C. Hamilton gave her faithful 
and valuable service in the choir, also purchased at her own expense the 
necessary music. Mrs. Hamilton donated generously whenever occasion 

Miss Daisy Cooke has been ever faithful at the organ these many 
years. For many years she received no remuneration for her service. 

Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Needham of Columbus, Georgia, have been ever 
generous contributors to St. Lawrence Church. 

Mr. L. L. Jenkins of Asheville and Washington, non-Catholic, aided 
substantially in liquidating the Parish indebtedness. 

Hundreds of others have given generously towards the building of 
St. Lawrence Church. 

ftfje £abp Cftapel 

We turn now to the Lady Chapel than which it would be hard to find 
anything of its kind more exquisite. The prevailing color is a delicate blue 
which forms a beautiful background for the creamy white marble statue of 
Our Blessed Lady as the Immaculate Conception, the figure suggesting at 
once the great picture by Murillo and possessing the same sort of virginal 
purity and sweetness. Inserted in the upper part of this altar is a superb 
old panel, "The Crucifixion," attributed to the famous old pottery of Capo 
di Monte in Italy. The spirit and charm of this panel cannot be expressed 
but happily those who are reading this description will see it for themselves. 
On either side are onyx tiles. 

The Tabernacle below is another exquisite piece of faience in a pearly 
cream glaze touched here and there with vitrious colors. On either side is 
a little colonnade with niches containing the following Saints with their 
respective symbols: beginning at the extreme left, St. Margaret with a 
crucifix in her hand and a broken chain at her feet ; St. Lucia with a lamp 
in her hand; St. Cecilia with a harp; St. Catherine of Alexandria with a 
sword, book and wheel. On the other side in the same order are St. Barbara 




with a castle; St. Agnes with a lamp; St. Agatha with breasts in her hands; 
St. Rose of Lima with a crucifix. Over the ends of the colonnade are two 
sisters, St. Rufia on the left and St. Justa on the right, they are the 
patronesses of Sevilla, Spain, and they are always represented pictorially 
with vases or alcarrazas in their hands because they were daughters of a 

Inlaid in the delicate blue field of tiles at the base of the altar front is 
an old Italian marble fragment representing the Nativity; while forming 
a frame around the altar front is a series of colored tiles bearing in gold 
lettering titles of Our Lady selected from those which the Church has ap- 
plied to her in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin. 

Around the arch of this exquisite altar are seven doves, typifying the 
Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, 
knowledge, piety, and the fear of the Lord, with which gifts the Virgin 
Mother of Jesus was so preeminently endowed. 

The door to the Sacristy from this chapel is of Spanish design and has 
a fine old panel representing The Good Shepherd as is told on the scroll 
which bears the words: "Pastor Bonus." Above this door is an old paint- 
ing by an unknown artist portraying the Visitation. 

On the wall on either side of the door are two small paintings, copies 
of Italian old masters. 

The large stained glass windows represent St. Mary of the Sea, and the 
small one above St. Rafael, the archangel. On the same wall near the 
crypt of Mr. Guastavino is a very old copy of one of Murillo's famous 
Madonnas. The door here is of lustre glazed tiles framed in bronze and 
is the entrance to the crypt in which rests all that was mortal of the generous 
Catholic and gifted architect, Rafael Guastavino, to whom the congregation 
of St. Lawrence must now and always owe a debt of everlasting remem- 
brance. It is right that he should be laid to rest here where this exquisite 
Lady Chapel will forever bear witness to the devotion and genius of himself 
and of his gifted son. 


On the left of the Main Altar, but to the visitor's right, is a much 
plainer but still beautiful chapel, intended as St. Joseph's, but now generally 
called The Sacred Heart chapel because of the statue which has been placed 
there. The altar piece here is a window from the little frame church let into 
the wall like a panel and representing The Nativity. This altar, as also its 
apse walls, merit more than a passing glance, for examination will show 


that both altar and walls are largely made of broken bits of tiles, and when 
we realize that this work, as fine as some mosaics, was done by the Fathers 
Marion who pieced together with their own hands these bits and made them 
into this harmonious whole, we begin to understand the infinite patience and 
accuracy of the two brothers, and we can imagine how precious to St. Joseph, 
the carpenter of Nazareth, must be this chapel dedicated to him. The large 
stained glass window here represents the death of St. Joseph in the arms of 
Jesus and Mary; and the small one is of St. Lawrence with the martyr's 
palm and his gridiron symbol. Both of these were in the little church of 
Father White's time. The group of statuary in this chapel representing 
Our Lord's Agony in Gethsemane is the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward H. 
B runner. 

The lavish use of tiles throughout this church might well call forth the 
query, "Where did they come from?" They were made in the little town of 
Woburn, Massachusetts, where Mr. Guastavino had established a factory 
and they represent years of experimental work. Indeed the story of these 
experiments with their varying success would of itself make a highly inter- 
esting chapter in the history of ceramic art in America. It was in the course 
of them that Rafael Guastavino, Jr., discovered the lustre glaze which he 
has used to such good effect in the tiles for the door to the crypt of his father, 
just off the Lady Chapel. 

Perhaps the best spot for getting the full effect of the dome and the 
oval of the whole plan, as also for seeing the windows, is in front of the 
central gates of the Sanctuary, looking toward the main entrance. Just 
under the vaulting of the dome is a gem-like frieze of ten semi-circular 
windows all, except one (which represents the Conversion of St. Paul), 
portraying scenes in the Gospel Story, beginning with The Annunciation 
and ending with The Appearance of The Risen Savior to Mary Magdalen. 
The two very large, and handsome windows on either side of the church 
represent Christ healing the afflicted (east side) and The Transfiguration 
(west side). 

In the organ loft, the large window portrays The Resurrection, and 
flanking this on the right are a cinquefoil window with St. Peter as the 
subject, and a smaller one above, to the honor of the Four Evangelists; 
while the cinquefoil to the left has, as subject, St. Paul, with the one above 
commemorating the four Latin Fathers of the Early Church, Sts. Jerome, 
Gregory, Ambrose, and Augustine. All of these windows were made in 



In the four niches of the main body of the church there are four 
statues, the work of Deprate Statuary Company of Italy. On the west side 
stands St. Peter with his keys, and facing him on the east side St. Patrick 
with his crozier, shamrock, and scallop shell (referring to his baptizing his 
converts). These two statues were selected by their donors because these 
two saints were the patrons of Fathers Peter and Patrick Marion, an emi- 
nently fitting selection as all who read this pamphlet will readily grant. In 
the niches near the entrance are statues of St. Cecilia on the west and 
St. Rose of Lima on the east. When one of the Altar Society asked Father 
Patrick why these two saints were chosen, he answered with an Irish twinkle 
in his eye, "Sure! aren't the women to be represented everywhere now?" 
But it is easy to see another reason for the choice. St. Rose was the first 
saint of the Americas to be canonized and St. Cecilia is the patroness of 
organ music throughout the world. 

The stations of the Cross placed around the church represent, as every 
Catholic knows, the toilsome journey of Our Suffering Lord from the hall 
of Pilate to Calvary. His death, the deposition from the Cross and the 
burial in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. The stations are of Rigalico 
and, like everything else in the church, they are gifts from various persons. 

We cannot close this very imperfect description of the interior of St. 
Lawrence without urging everyone interested in ecclesiastical art to give 
detailed study to this church, for the assertion may be safely made that a 
careful consideration of the symbolism, the beauty, and "the reason for 
being" of every detail, of the pictures, the tiles, the windows, and the 
statuary, would go far toward preparing one for artistic appreciation of 
those great works of art in America and Europe which have delighted the 
world and have lifted the human spirit to some sort of true perception of 
the sublime and the beautiful. 

In such a study it is well to remember always that there is no rite nor 
symbol in the Catholic Ceremonial and in Christian Art which has not its 
own religious significance, and if we find ourselves unable to understand or 
to appreciate what we see, it is always possible that the lack may to some 
degree be in ourselves. 



taineb <§la££ Jfflemortal ^inbotosf 


<Ti)f Annunciation 

In memory of 
James H. Loughran 

Che ^ttfitatton 

In memory of 
Nora Bryan Campbell 

Ehe JEattbitp 

In memory of 
J. K. Farge 

Wt)t teaching in Che temple 

In memory of 
William and Mary O'Donovan 

Che Conbersion of %t. $aul 

In memory of 
Mrs. J. H. Bosse 


Che jftlarriagc jfeasft of Cana 

In memory of 
R. A. Hicks and Family 

Raising to life Baughter of Sairufi 

In memory of 
Willum and Anna Reagan 

Che Calming of the &)inb anb WabtH 

In memory of 
Catherine Harrington 

Che Agonp in tfje <§arbcn 

In memory of 
Mary McKenzte 

Che Jffleeting of jftlars jftlagbelene 

In memory of 
Fred Ward 


Che Ascension of <Bur Eorb 

In memory of 
Mrs. Mary Marion 



Cfjrist pealing tfjc i§>irfe 

In memory of 
Margaret Loughran 


Hisljop ©aib'g Coat of arms 

In memory of 
Margaret Hess 


Cfjc ^Transfiguration of 0uv ILorb 

In memory of 
Agnes E. Fox 


Pope $iug X Coat of &rms 

In memory of 
A. Burnes 

£>t. Pfter 

In memory of 
Lucian Fabricotti 

Meatf) of £>t. Joseph 

In memory of 
Mrs. M. Fischer 

QTotoer ££inboto 

In memory of 
John Retlley 



partial list of jfllemortals 

With Names of Donors 


Mr. and Mrs. Frank Loughran Mr. and Mrs. Edw. Brunner 


Mr. and Mrs. Martin Rothan Miss Rose Byrne 


Mr. and Mrs. Maurice du Pont Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Deschler 


Mr. and Mrs. Louis Carr Mr. and Mrs. M. H. Kelly 


Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hellen Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Needham 


Mr. and Mrs. Martin Rothan CHIMES 

FUNERAL SET-CANDLE- Miss Margaret J- O'Connor 


Mr. and Mrs. Patrick McIntyre Mrs. Margaret J. Ruppert 



Mr. and Mrs. E. P. Gilkey 


Consecration Fund 

Generous Friend 

BRASS ALTAR CRUCIFIX by Rt. Rev. Bishop Hoban 

SANCTUARY CHAIR by Knights of Columbus 

ARTISTIC ALTAR CLOTH SET by Mr. and Mrs. Bernard F. 

ESTEY PIPE ORGAN by Mr. and Mrs. Rafael Guastavino, Jr. 
HOLY WATER FONTS by Miss Mamie Stelling 
DEAGAN ALTAR CHIMES by Bryan-Campbell Family 
CHAPEL TOWER CROSS by Bryan-Campbell Family 

STATUE OF BLESSED VIRGIN by Mr. and Mrs. Patrick McIntyre 




Mr. and Mrs. Maurice du Pont 
Mr. and Mrs. Patrick McIntyre 
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Loughran 
Mr. John O'Donnell 
Mr. and Mrs. George Smathers 
Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Needham 
Mr. and Mrs. M. H. Kelly 


(The Lady Chapel) 





























Stations of tfte Cross 

(Donated by the following) 

Mr. John E. Sugg 

Mr. and Mrs. J. T. James 

Mr. and Mrs. John Branagan 

Mrs. J. T. Grace 

Mr. John Anthony MacDonald 

Mrs. A. Felthaus 

Mr. and Mrs. S. J. Mulvaney 

Mr. and Mrs. E. H. Brunner 

Mr. and Mrs. George Smathers 

Mr. and Mrs. George Smathers 

Mrs. J. H. Stelling 

Misses Louise and Lelia Trumbo 

Mrs. J. Grace Wharton 

Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Manley 




Mrs. J. Scheinley Mr. Patrick McIntyre 

Mr. W. Byrne Mr. James Price 

Mr. Ed. E. Dunn Mr. J. Clerkin 

OUT CHURCH Mrs. Patrick Carr 

MAIN TOWER CROSSES Mrs. George Smathers 

Mrs. F. Vance & Harry Martin CHApEL T0W ER CROSS 

TWO SMALL GALLERY Rev. Mother Deplanck 

Mr. R. Stehley 


Mr. S. M. Stevens 

Mrs. A. Curran 

Mr. J. Scheinley 

Note. — Since this booklet went to press the present Rector, Rev. 
Louis J. Bour, has found among the papers of the late Rector, Rt. Rev. 
Msgr. Marion, a list of many donations along with the names of the donors. 
It is a source of very great regret to Father Bour and to the Altar Society 
that this list was not found in time to give it in this edition. It will be care- 
fully preserved, and should there be, as we hope there will be, a second 
edition, the complete revision and all the names will be given. However, 
the Rector and the Ladies of the Altar Society console themselves with the 
knowledge that these generous and devout benefactors of St. Lawrence did 
not make their sacrifices and their gifts for human glory and for recognition 
before the world. Their high motive was the honor and glory of God and 
they have OUR LORD'S own assurance in the Gospels that not even a cup 
of cold water given in His name shall go unrewarded. We wish here to give 
them also our promise that in our poor prayers all of them will be included 
when we remember before the Throne of Grace those who by their piety and 
unstinted generosity have made possible our beautiful church — an ever- 
lasting memorial of their munificence and Faith, and every reader of these 
pages is asked to repeat this prayer for our benefactors. VOUCHSAFE, 


Belmont Abbey 
Belmont, N. C. 







d y 


o . m 




iu - 






Belmont Abbey 


Belmont, N. C. 






Form No. A-368, Rev. 8/95